How the Flames goalies stack up within the Pacific Division

Last year, the Calgary Flames had bad goaltending. How bad, you may ask? Well, they were the worst team in the entire National Hockey League in terms of even strength save percentage by over a third of a percentage point.

That’s pretty bad.

So it’s probably not shocking that Flames General Manager Brad Treliving went shopping for new goalies this offseason. After a busy summer attempting to upgrade his goalies, the big question is “did he?” In an effort to judge Treliving’s summer moves in context, here’s how Calgary’s goalkeepers stack up relative to the other six teams in the Pacific Division.

GOALIE CAP HITS

Here’s a quick rundown of how much cap space each Pacific Division team has divvied out for their projected goaltenders:

  • $7.55 million – Vancouver: Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom
  • $6.72 million – Arizona: Mike Smith and Louis Domingue
  • $6.70 million – Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff
  • $6.45 million – Anaheim: Jonathan Bernier and John Gibson
  • $4.97 million – Edmonton: Cam Talbot and Jonas Gustavsson
  • $4.20 million – Calgary: Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson
  • $3.60 million – San Jose: Martin Jones and Troy Groesnick

Well, considering the Flames spent $8.3 million on Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller for some spectacularly mediocre goaltending – more than any other Pacific team – they sure seemed to have found some value.

But has their goaltending gotten better relative to the rest of the pack?

RECENT GOALIE PERFORMANCE

My method is simple: go to NHL.com and check out how many even strength shots a goalie faced over the past three seasons and what their save percentage was.

ANAHEIM Jonathan Bernier
John Gibson
.923 on 3,784 shots
.923 on 1,435 shots
ARIZONA Louis Domingue
Mike Smith
.922 on 1,056 shots
.921 on 3,788 shots
CALGARY Brian Elliott
Chad Johnson
.928 on 2,400 shots
.923 on 2,042 shots
EDMONTON Jonas Gustavsson
Cam Talbot
.917 on 1,225 shots
.927 on 2,713 shots
LOS ANGELES Jonathan Quick
Jeff Zatkoff
.927 on 3,958 shots
.916 on 789 shots
SAN JOSE Martin Jones
Troy Groesnick
.928 on 2,068 shots
.948 on 58 shots
VANCOUVER Jacob Markstrom
Ryan Miller
.907 on 1,135 shots
.921 on 3,886 shots

Given their performance over the past three seasons, can we approximate their expected performance over this season? Somewhat.

I’m projecting team-by-team save percentage using a fairly simplistic formula based on a few key assumptions:

  1. Every goalie will save roughly the same proportion of even strength shots that they have over the past three years. (For Troy Groesnick, I’m presuming an even strength save percentage of .920 to correct for his low shots against to date.)
  2. Every team will allow the same number of even strength shots as they did last season.
  3. Starters will face 75% of shots, back-ups will face 25% (except in Arizona, where there’s a 50/50 split).
ANAHEIM
(1,697 shots)
Gibson 75%
Bernier 25%
Gibson .923
Bernier .923
.923
ARIZONA
(1,927 shots)
Smith 50%
Domingue 50%
Smith .921
Domingue .922
.922
CALGARY
(1,883 shots)
Elliott 75%
Johnson 25%
Elliott .928
Johnson .923
.927
EDMONTON
(1,971 shots)
Talbot 75%
Gustavsson 25%
Talbot .922
Gustavsson .917
.921
LOS ANGELES
(1,711 shots)
Quick 75%
Zatkoff 25%
Quick .927
Zatkoff .916
.924
SAN JOSE
(1,700 shots)
Jones 75%
Groesnick 25%
Jones .928
Groesnick .920
.926
VANCOUVER
(2,046 shots)
Miller 75%
Markstrom 25%
Miller .921
Markstrom .907
.918

That’s pretty good. Presuming that everybody plays as they have in recent history, the Flames have set themselves up really, really well relative to the rest of the division. In a few markets (Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver) there’s a strong starter and a pretty weak backup. In Calgary, there does not appear to be that problem, and consistency in performance between the two goalies could really help the Flames find some consistency in all areas of their on-ice performance this coming season.

SUM IT UP

Treliving somehow made his goaltending tandem much, much cheaper and much, much better than it was last season, and also managed to make his team (on paper) that much more competitive.

  • Hockeyfan

    if the Flames tandem can pull off anywhere between
    .918 – .927. what an improvement that will be as well an excellent shot at the playoffs. What’s going on with JG & SM Tree?

    • DJ_44

      Miller won’t have to start three in a row…it will be a fairly even split with Markstrom.

      His performance falls off with fatigue. He was very good last year despite a terrible defense. Goaltending…now and in the future (Hello Thatcher Demko) should not be a problem in Vancouver…..

      granted… there may be a few other areas for improvement.

  • BurningSensation

    The transformation of the team between the pipes has been nothing short of amazing.

    If the Flames make the playoffs, Treliving’s goalie fix this off season will be reason #1.

  • RKD

    I have more confidence in this goalie tandem than the 3-head monster we had to go through last season. Elliot is a legit no. 1 goalie who will steal games for you. I really like the Johnson move, no more wondering how badly your backup will get lit up in back to back situation on the road. Or worse, seeing your backup usually a young prospect in the Flames case as of recent years play well and not get any goal support. Johnson really solidifies the back up role, more so than we have seen around these parts in years. Imagine if Kipper had Johnson behind him, Kipper wouldn’t have had to play 75 games a season and probably would have bagged another Vezina.

  • OKG

    Flaw in this methodology is a younger guy like Markstrom trending upwards. Doing a 44/33/22 recency weighting for each of the last three years, and then using adj.FSV℅ instead of SV℅ would get you a more reliable measure. And since Adj.FSV℅ accounts for game-situation (5vs5, PP, PK, 4vs4, 3vs3 etc) you can use an all situations measurement instead of a limited ES SV% (which I find is flawed, 3vs3 in particular really fudges with that see Ortio, Joni). I say this because Markstrom established himself as both a steady goalie and Vancouver’s starter last season, behind a tire fire of a team.